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Monday, November 30, 2015

EPA Announces Final Rule on RFS Obligations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The blending requirements were increased to a total of 18.1 billions gallons. This includes 14.5 billion gallons of undifferentiated biofuels or corn ethanol and 230 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol. Refiners must meet these obligations in blending biofuels with gasoline.

"In this decision the EPA has bowed to the Big Oil lobby and stepped away from commitments made to the American farmer almost a decade ago. Now that the system is up and running, changing the rules midstream serves to undermine the very good that was designed when the RFS was passed by Congress and signed by the President," said KY Corn Growers Board member, Joseph Sisk. "Farmers have invested and boosted productivity to supply the system's needs. EPA's unwillingness to simply follow the statute will lead to greater distrust in the farm community when it comes to the EPA and their policies."

The following is a statement from Maryland farmer Chip Bowling, president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today's announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"America's corn farmers are proud to grow a cleaner burning, renewable fuel source for America and the world. In July, we asked the Environmental Protection Agency to restore the 2014-16 corn ethanol renewable volume obligation to comply with the Renewable Fuel Standard as passed by Congress and signed into law.

"While we are pleased to see the EPA take a step forward and revise its original proposal, the fact remains that any reduction in the statutory amount will have a negative impact on our economy, our energy security, and the environment. It is unfortunate that Big Oil's campaign of misinformation continues to carry weight in the court of public opinion, and in this decision.

"The Renewable Fuel Standard has been one of America's most successful energy policies ever. Because of it, our economy is stronger, we are more energy independent, and our air is cleaner. We should be strengthening our commitment to renewable fuels, not backing down.

"In light of the EPA's decision, we are evaluating our options. We will fight to protect the rights of farmers and consumers and hold the EPA accountable."


For more information contact Kirstie Willis, kirstie@kycorn.org.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Big Oil Tries to Kill the RFS, Media Outlets Win

For the past several weeks, the corn and ethanol industry has been in a dogfight with Big Oil. The latest topic is EPA's anticipated announcement of the next round of "RVO's", or Renewable Volumetric Obligations scheduled for the end of November. RVO's are the mechanism inside the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) that directs the amounts of ethanol to be blended with gasoline by "obligated parties", or oil refiners. The battle has been ugly and expensive, and there is no end in sight. The oil industry's goal is to chip away at the meaningful parts of the RFS so they can regain their monopoly on liquid automobile fuel. The winner certainly isn't consumers - the winner is the media. Ethanol's side of the story is being outspent four-to-one.

The fight brings interesting players into the arena. Bloomberg reported last week that a Marathon lobbyist authored a dear colleague letter that was placed on a Congressional office's letterhead, asking EPA to scale back the RVO's. And franchise owners of fast food restaurants are aggressively delivering talking points to Congressional offices with the message that hamburgers and drumsticks are more expensive because of the RFS. "That's perplexing," explained Adam Andrews, KyCorn's Programs Director "because the price of corn is cheaper today and for the past few years than it was on the day the RFS passed. All of the other tangibles in their industry are petroleum-related."

There is a political effort underway in the midst of all of this chaos, as well. NCGA, recognizing that EPA is most directly linked to the RVO issue, decided that maybe a campaign to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) would get the attention of EPA's boss, President Obama. KyCorn fully supports the effort. It involves farmers mailing a brief note along with a sample of corn to the political strategy officials in President Obama's and thus EPA's party.

Its premise is to let President Obama know, through the DCCC, that farmers are watching as his employees announce this monumental decision for rural America. NCGA is asking farmers to send a sample of corn from his field with a handwritten message that: on Election Day, farmers will remember how EPA handles this RVO decision. NCGA developed a kit to help farmers do this, but the distribution list was very selective, only farmers who have recently participated in other NCGA grassroots efforts. If you didn't receive a kit, we still want you to participate, KyCorn acquired extras. Send a message to Adam Andrews at adam@kycorn.org, he will get the tools to you ASAP.

The RFS is working, but only if our political leaders stay the course. As an advocate for your industry, the time for you to speak up is upon you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NASS County Yield Survey

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is currently conducting 2015 yield surveys. Kentucky Corn encourages producers contacted to complete a 2015 yield survey. Many USDA agencies, including the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Risk Management Agency (RMA), use the NASS yield data for their programs. Your ability to share this information will result in more informed producers.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, FSA uses the NASS county yield data to calculate Agriculture Risk Coverage - County (ARC-CO) benchmark revenues and current year county revenues. For example, the 2014 NASS county yield, along with the crop's marketing year average price (MYA), are used to determine the county's current year revenue to determine if the county will trigger an ARC-CO payment. An ARC-CO payment is triggered for a county when the current year revenue falls below the guarantee revenue for the crop and crop year.

In cases where NASS county yield data is not available, the FSA State Committee must determine a county yield using RMA yield data or the best available yield data, including assigning a county yield using neighboring county yields from NASS or RMA.

There are two surveys used to collect yields, the County Agricultural Production Survey and December Agricultural Survey. Telephone interviewers are currently conducting follow-up for the County Agricultural Production Survey. In late November and early December the December Agricultural Survey will be conducted. Any information that producers provide to NASS is kept confidential and protected by federal law. NASS publishes only aggregate-level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified. All reports will be available here.

If you have questions about these surveys, or how NASS establishes county yields, please contact David Knopf at David.Knopf@nass.usda.gov or (502) 582-5260.